The NYPD arrested a homeless man with a history of violence Thursday and charged him with raping a 73-year-old woman in the middle of the day in Central Park.
David Albert Mitchell, 42, was nabbed by three rookie officers Wednesday night after they saw him walking on Manhattan's Upper West Side, not far from where the woman said the attack occurred around noon that day.
Mitchell was charged with first-degree rape, assault, predatory sex act, criminal sex act, robbery and criminal possession of stolen property, police said. He was awaiting arraignment.
The woman, an avid bird-watcher who visited the park frequently, picked Mitchell out of a lineup, said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, a spokesman for the police department.
Police said surveillance footage showed Mitchell leaving the park shortly after the attack by Strawberry Fields, near West 74th Street and Central Park West, with a backpack similar to the one that belonged to the woman.
The woman, whose name was not released because she is a victim of a sex crime, told police she recognized her attacker because she had snapped his photograph more than a week ago as he performed a lewd act in the park near The Bramble, police said.
"Do you remember me?" the man had asked her before he assaulted her, she told police.
Mitchell, whose last known address was Henrico, Va., had extensive criminal records in that state and in West Virginia, Browne said.
Mitchell served eight years in prison in an abduction case and he was acquitted on murder and sex assault charges in 1989, Browne said.
The police department will review and determine if it needs to step up patrols in the park, said Browne, who noted that this is the first reported rape in Central Park this year.
"This attack -- the viciousness of it -- the fact that it was in daylight stands out as an anomaly in many respects." he said.